Simeon coach Robert Smith praised Glenbard West before the season even began, proclaiming the Hilltoppers the best team in the state.
There was a moment this season when the Wolverines were firing on all cylinders and it seemed that they were the team most capable of challenging Glenbard West.
That did not happen on Friday at Proviso West. The Hilltoppers dominated the game from start to finish, smashing Simeon 60-32.
“They are better than all of us,” Smith said. “It is just a given. I thought we were going to play a better game than we did. We didn’t play up to our capability. But it was probably something they did, not just us.”
Simeon is considered the best team in the state in Class 3A. Glenbard West, a Class 4A team, is the best team regardless of class. It was expected to be a high-octane game with high-level thrills. That’s what happened when the Hilltoppers faced Sierra Canyon, CA and when the Wolverines played Kenwood.
Instead, it was an ugly, physical game with no flow. Glenbard West (30-1) took charge immediately, building a 17-4 lead in the first quarter. Simeon closed the gap to eleven points very early in the third quarter but never mounted a significant challenge.
“We knew it would be physical coming in,” Hilltoppers coach Jason Opoka said. “We wanted to challenge ourselves and put ourselves in a position where maybe we felt uncomfortable and I thought our approach and our game plan was excellent. It was a grind. It was quite stagnant.”
Glenbard West was uncomfortable, but that makes the dominating final score that much more impressive. Simeon was able to expose some chinks in the armor of the state’s best team but to absolutely no real impact.
“The length was huge,” Smith said. “We haven’t seen anything like that. I don’t think anybody has. Young may have a chance if they get to play them against since they have already seen it once. But watching it on film and up close is a totally different thing.”
Senior Bobby Durkin was the standout for Glenbard West. He finished with 19 points, including two big three-pointers that set the tone early.
“They play super physical,” Durkin said. “But I thought we handled it well in the second half, limiting the turnovers.”
Gonzaga recruit Braden Huff had 14 points and Paxton Warden added 13. Hilltoppers senior Ryan Renfro was a force in the post with eight points and 13 rebounds.
“I just tried to lower my shoulder and go for every board I could,” Renfro. “This was so fun. It’s a great way to end it for sure. Coach gave us a really difficult schedule this year. But the job is not finished we have seven more games.”
Nichols Robinson led Simeon (23-5) with 11 points off the bench and Wes Rubin added seven. Miles Rubin, the Wolverines’ second-leading scorer, and leading rebounder, missed the game with an injury.
Simeon has lost back-to-back games. Curie knocked the Wolverines out of the city tournament last week.
“I still like our chances in the playoffs,” Smith said. “We didn’t lose to bad teams. We just need to get back at it.”